THE Ellesmere Port man accused of murdering 31-year-old Steven Carey has declined to give evidence at his trial.

Ben Steven Wilkinson, 25, of Waverton Road, Great Sutton, has denied the charge of murder in relation to the fatal stabbing of Mr Carey on the night of March 14, in Pooltown Road, by the Costcutter store in Ellesmere Port.

Wilkinson has pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and of possessing a bladed article – a green-handled kitchen knife – in public.

The jury of five men and seven women at Chester Crown Court will be expected to find a verdict on whether Wilkinson is guilty or not of murder.

After the prosecution case, led by Tania Griffiths QC, concluded on Monday morning (November 23), the jury were brought back in briefly to hear the defence case, led by David Elias QC, on Monday afternoon.

Mr Elias informed the court Wilkinson had declined his right to give evidence.

The defence case had therefore concluded.

Previously, the court heard witnesses giving evidence that Mr Carey had come to the address of Wilkinson's partner at the time on Pooltown Road at about 8.45pm on March 14, demanding to see Wilkinson over an unpaid £80 cocaine debt.

Wilkinson had later told police when being formally interviewed he had grabbed a knife from the kitchen before meeting Mr Carey outside, saying he was planning to use the knife to "scare him" away without using it.

A number of witnesses – including people who had been at Wilkinson's former partner's house – then saw Wilkinson and Mr Carey having a fight in the street.

The fight ended when Wilkinson had used the knife to stab Mr Carey three times in the lower back.

Both men left in opposite directions, with Mr Carey heading along Regent Street before requiring emergency treatment.

Police and ambulance teams were called to the scene after two teenagers who had witnessed the fight made a 999 call.

Mr Carey was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, but died from his stab wounds just over an hour later at 9.55pm.

Wilkinson had returned to the Pooltown Road house to drop the knife in the kitchen sink.

He then headed to a friend's home in Bostock Green, where he locked himself in a shed to hide.

Police later located him and, once Wilkinson left the shed, he was arrested.

When police had asked him in interview why he hadn't called 999 after the stabbing, if he hadn't intended to hurt Mr Carey, Wilkinson replied "I didn't [think], I just panicked and ran off.

"I made a rash decision and will have to live with it."

Both the prosecution and defence will give their summing up on Tuesday, then Justice Michael Leeming will deliver his summing up and any directions necessary for the jury before they retire to consider their verdict.